OSU Leads $20M AI-EDGE Institute to Revolutionize AI and Networking Technologies
Imagine a future where you can ask your virtual personal assistant to have your self-driving car pick up your kids from school, home robots clean your home windows and do your laundry, design furniture at a fully automated factory based on your specifications, and give customized medicines to your patients. Such applications will depend on the development of future intelligent communication edge network that go beyond 6G systems and can interconnect billions of end devices that provide services and solutions for the benefit of all. This is the vision of the new $20M NSF AI Institute for Future Edge Networks and Distributed Intelligence (AI-EDGE) led by Ohio State and partially funded by U.S. Department of Homeland Security. AI-EDGE will create new AI tools and techniques to ensure that communications networks are self-healing and self-optimized. These networks will also be designed to help solve long-standing distributed AI challenges – making AI more efficient, interactive, privacy-aware, and secure.
AI-EDGE is led by Dr. Ness Shroff, Ohio Eminent Scholar and Chaired Professor of ECE and CSE Departments, of The Ohio State University. It includes 30 prominent researchers, scientists, and engineers from 11 universities, 4 leading companies in networking and Artificial Intelligence, and three of our premier Department of Defense Research Labs. The team is focused on edge networks — a trend in the technology world with the rapid increases in processing power at edge devices — most of the growth is expected to come with wireless devices, services, and applications at the edge rather than the traditional network core. These edge networks will encompass mobile and stationary end devices, wireless and wired access, and computing and data servers. “AI technologies will bring revolutions to distributed edge networks,” Shroff said, “The next generation edge networks will have distributed and intelligent agents to enable intelligent transportation, remote healthcare, distributed robotics, smart aerospace, etc.”
“Networking and AI are two of the most transformative IT technologies, which help to better our everyday lives, and are critical to national economic competitiveness, national security, and defense. The Institute will exploit the synergies between the two,” said Shroff, “so that AI will empower Networking and benefit from Networking.”
The overall research plan of the Institute will span over two broad synergistic themes: AI for Networks and Networks for AI. One theme is to apply AI to design the next generation edge networks that are highly efficient, reliable, robust, and secure. “We will develop a new distributed intelligence plane to ensure that these networks are self-healing, adaptive, and self-optimized.” said Shroff.
While the preliminary successes of AI for networks have been promising, developing AI and machine learning (ML) algorithms to networking with minimal or no human oversight poses many challenging research questions to be explored systematically and in depth. To this end, the team will innovate their research along four research directions: re-engineering the physical fabric for 6G and beyond wireless networks through AI, designing AI-enabled network resource allocation, developing multi-agent AI-based distributed network control, and devising new AI powered network security techniques.
On the other hand, “the future of AI is distributed because AI will increasingly be implemented across a diverse set of edge devices.” said Shroff, “Thus, the developed intelligent and adaptive networks will in turn solve long-standing distributed AI challenges, making AI more efficient, interactive, and privacy preserving.”
“A critical role that the Institute will play is to shorten the interactions between Foundations and use case research across multiple disciplines,” said Shroff, “which will dramatically accelerate the time it takes from doing the foundational research to seeing the products in the field. Thus, the team will explore three wireless edge use cases in depth, which include ubiquitous sensing and networking, human machine mobility, and programmable and virtualized 6G and beyond networks. “These use cases will significantly connect the key research thrusts and their validation to specific experimental platforms,” said Shroff. The Institute will work with the industry and DoD partners to facilitate translation and adoption.
It is a national priority to educate students, professionals, and practitioners in AI and networks, and substantially grow and diversify the workforce. Thus, the Institute will develop novel, efficient, and modular ways of creating and delivering education content and curricula at scale, and to spearhead a program that helps build a large diverse workforce in AI and networks spanning K-12 to university students and faculty.
"AI is, without a doubt, the future, offering the opportunity to improve personalized health care, augment cybersecurity, boost smart mobility, enhance food security, and so much more; but its vast possibilities cannot be fully realized without advancements that substantially improve cutting-edge technologies and bring new services to a broader audience," said Ohio State President and ECE Professor Kristina M. Johnson. "Not only will they continue the ongoing and incredibly vital work to fully realize the potential of AI, but they will also offer the opportunity to increase the number and diversity of individuals with the skills necessary to meet the long-term workforce needs of this important field."
AI-EDGE is anticipated to create a research, education, knowledge transfer, and workforce development environment that will facilitate future co-revolutions of next-generation edge networks and AI technologies for many decades to come.